Screening for Root Rot Resistance in Spring Wheat with Aichatou Djibo Waziri

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Show Notes & Resources Mentioned:

View Dr. Kim Garland-Campbell’s webpage.

Contact Information:

Contact Aichatou Djibo Waziri via email at


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Episode Transcription:

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Hello, and welcome to the WSU Wheat Beat Podcast. I’m your host, Drew Lyon, and I want to thank you for joining me as we explore the world of small grains production and research at Washington State University. We have weekly discussions with researchers from WSU and the USDA-ARS to provide you with insights into the latest research on wheat and barley production. If you enjoy the WSU Wheat Beat Podcast, do us a favor and subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app. And leave us a review while you’re there so others can find the show too.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: My guest today is Aichatou Djibo Waziri. Aichatou is a Fulbright fellow from Niger. She received her first master’s degree in plant and soil microbiology at the University of Cheech Anta Diop of Dakar in 2015. She just finished the first year of her master’s in crop science at WSU. She is working with Dr. Kimberly Garland-Campbell. Her project is focusing on screening for resistant lines to fusarium crown rot and rhizoctonia root rot in a population of spring wheat. Hello Aichatou.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Hi Drew.

Drew Lyon: Tell us a little bit about what your work is about. What are you trying to accomplish? You’re trying to screen for resistant lines; how do you go about doing that?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: So, I’m working with population recombinant inbred line, derived from the cross between the popular cultivar race and Iranian landrace. And technically we are screening for resistance to fusarium crown rot and rhizoctonia, two soil fungal pathogens that cause serious yield and quality reduction. At the molecular level we are trying to look at genes or chromosome regions significantly assoc– associated with resistance to the pathogens, or better yet fully resistant lines. And aside we are also trying to quantify the lignin content and composition into the roots and crown of the plants and see how this correlates with resistance to the pathogens.

Drew Lyon: Lignin, okay. Tell us why lignin– you think lignin is important to this.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: So prior studies have shown that some Iranian landraces have little penetration by certain soil parasitic nematodes and this was associated with the lignin content. And the other thing is if this study or future ones confirm the central implication of lignin in resistance to diseases this adds something new to the breeder’s objective list because more often breeding focuses on economic trades and stress resistance and a little less on plants secondary metabolize composition.

Drew Lyon: So, the idea being more lignin, less nematode penetration, so more resistance to being attacked by these root diseases?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Exactly.

Drew Lyon: Okay. Very interesting. So, what are some of the difficulties you’re facing in breeding for fusarium crown rot resistance?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: So, for one, many genes are involved in confirming resistance to Fusarium crown rot and sometimes these genes are different whether the plant is a sibling or adult stage. The other thing is fusarium crown rot is caused by a complex of fusarium like pathogens and this composition is subject to change depending on the time it conditions.

Drew Lyon: I know my time in Western Nebraska, crown rot, Fusarium crown rot, a lot of times poor seedbed, dry conditions, all those kinds of things affected it, so it was kind of hard to really know when it was going to be a problem, and so that probably enters into this whole breeding thing as well, right.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Exactly. And with the recent issue of global warming and climate change it’s really hard to foresee how the disease outburst is going to be in the coming years, so.

Drew Lyon: Yeah, so could be getting worse as our temperature goes up.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Worse. Hopefully no.

Drew Lyon: So, a lot of diseases one or two genes, you figure them out, you — you kind of bring resistance.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Yeah.

Drew Lyon: But this one has a lot of different genes that are working together and so it’s not quite so easy to figure out what all needs to come together, is that the message?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Exactly.

Drew Lyon: Do you have any other future projects that you’re thinking of that might be tied to this or totally different from this that you’re working on while you’re here in the U.S.?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: So really my long-term project is going back to my continent and help revalorize crops and vegetables. They’re really nutritious but they’re disappearing and the main reason is because in many African countries the agriculture is not mechanized so farmers tend to abandon some crops because it’s hard to harvest or to process. So, this is one of my long-term goals and I am an adventurer, I’d love to travel the world and collect crops and vegetables and foods that are not native from Africa but could be adapted in a perspective of diet diversification.

Drew Lyon: Okay, and that– that would lead to the next question. I don’t really think of wheat as an African crop, so why come to the U.S. and work in wheat, what’s– how– how does that tie into your future goals?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Well, first, I love cakes [laughter from Drew], and yes in many African countries the fast-growing population and urbanization and change in eating habits is making wheat especially expensive to import. And in my country, there’s really a little work going on trying to introduce adapted cultivars so I decided I’m going to take part of that challenge and I decided to come here and learn more about wheat and plant breeding in general because all the wheat I know is through American movies.

Drew Lyon: [laughter] Okay. And why Washington State instead of say Kansas or somewhere else in the U.S. that grows wheat?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: So, I would go back to first why I came to the U.S. because, as many young African, growing up in a former French colony, until age of 12 I thought that the only countries in the world were my country and France, especially because many people would continue their studies in France automatically. When I was becoming more aware of the wideness of the world I decided that I am going to go further than my elders and try new and challenging things. So, I applied for the Fulbright scholarship and yeah, I was lucky enough to be awarded the Fulbright scholarship program and I came here. Why Washington State, I– that wasn’t my choice but I’m glad to be here because people are wonderful in the Pacific Northwest. The Fulbright office decided to send me here because they are in charge of the placement of the students.

Drew Lyon: Okay.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: And I don’t regret being here.

Drew Lyon: Well I’m glad they did send you here and I must say that your English is much better than my French, so I’m very impressed.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: It took me a long time though [laughter] and I’m still working on.

Drew Lyon: So, if our listeners want to learn a little bit more about what you’re doing and what Dr. Campbell is doing in her program is there a place they can go to learn about that?

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Yeah, absolutely. They can refer directly to the– to Kim Campbell’s webpage.

Drew Lyon: Okay, good, and they’ll be able to find the different projects she’s working on.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: Exactly.

Drew Lyon: We’ll be sure to put that in our show notes so our listeners can find that link and go to the website if they’re interested. Thank you for being my guest today.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: My pleasure.

Drew Lyon: And good luck with your program.

Aichatou Djibo Waziri: My pleasure, thank you.

[ Music ]

Drew Lyon: Thanks for joining us and listening to the WSU Wheat Beat Podcast. If you like what you hear, you can subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app so you never miss an episode. And leave us a review while you’re there. If you have questions for us that you’d like to hear addressed on future episodes, please email me at You can find us online at You can also reach out on Facebook and Twitter @WSUSmallGrains. The WSU Wheat Beat Podcast is a production of CAHNRS communications in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. I’m Drew Lyon. We’ll see you next week.

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